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Frazee jumps on education plan

Monday evening, the Frazee-Vergas School Board got a taste of the World’s Best Workforce.

A state initiated program for school districts, the district’s draft includes various goals to make Frazee-Vergas students part of the World’s Best Workforce. The draft was presented this week, and the group will again “present this live” at a special meeting in October, Superintendent Terry Karger said.

“This document is evolving,” he said, adding that the group’s hope is that they are going in the right direction with it.

One direction is improving reading and math proficiency, narrowing the gap between students on free and reduced meal programs and those who don’t qualify for free and reduced.

Integration Coordinator Rebecca Matejka said the Frazee-Vergas District is over 51 percent free and reduced, “so that was huge for us” to work on that gap.

Tested in grades 3-8 and 10, the state set the target numbers for proficiency increases, numbers that Matejka said are quite high.

“It seems like high targets, but a lot of districts have those,” she said.

She added that the state hasn’t said what will happen to districts that don’t meet those targets – for instance, the district as a whole needs to increase from a baseline of 63 percent proficiency in reading to 69 percent in 2014-15, to 75 percent in 2015-16, to 82 percent in 2016-17, with a total proficiency increase of 18 percent.

“This is brand new, and I think they may find over three years, they’ll see different data and see where people are meeting proficiencies and may have to change their targets,” she said.

Helping to hit those targets comes back to another area of concentration: third grade literacy plan.

Elementary Principal Travis Nagel said the goal is to have every student reading at grade level by the end of third grade. About 80 percent will do just fine, he said, 15 percent will need some small group or one-on-one intervention, and 5 percent will need special education, or intensive intervention.

Leading up to third grade, students kindergarten through third grade are tested throughout the year with various assessments including Star Reading and Maze comprehension.

“All those combined give us a good look at where our kids are at,” Nagel said.

The reading literacy component is a very fluid one, changing to meet the needs of students in the district.

“It’s a work in progress. We’re already talking about how to improve this,” he said.

And on the opposite end of the spectrum of those struggling with their learning, are those who are thriving and needing extra attention.

“Some that fall by the wayside are the kids that are excelling,” Nagel said, adding that those kids are being served through the Gifted and Talented Program.

A couple of the other areas the district will focus on include the Native American population; pre-k and making sure children are kindergarten ready; improving MCA’s scores in math, reading and science; having 100 percent graduation rate; extra-curricular activity participation; and technology.

Not only is one of the technology goals to help students prepare for work and college after high school, another goal is to increase the utilization of that technology.

“We’re really doing that by initiating our one-on-one technology,” Technology Coordinator Gretchen Norby said, referring to the issuing of iPads in several of the grades this year.

The World’s Best Workforce program also includes implementing teacher and principal evaluations.

“This causes us to sit down and reflect,” Karger said of the positive of having the evaluations now.

The team will continue to work on the document, perfecting it for the October presentation.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.